Pittsburgh Pirates Hero and Goat – The Sweet Taste of Victory

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The Pittsburgh Pirates won their first series since August by taking three out of four against the Reds.

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates are not officially eliminated from postseason contention. While their postseason dreams are dead, there is still plenty to play for in 2016. The team is fighting for a winning season and the players are basically auditioning for 2017. We all wanted a fourth straight playoff berth and while that isn’t likely to happen, it’s still good to see the team fighting for wins.

This Reds’ series was the best the Pirates have looked since August and they played three fairly solid ballgames. This team still has pride and clearly, they have not quit on 2016. I know no one will look back at 2016 fondly since it’s been a fairly disappointing season. This team is still playing for something. The young players are getting their first tastes of the Big Leagues. The veterans are trying to finish strong and prove they can bounce back in 2017. This is still an organization in a good position to compete for the long-haul. One poor season does not negate that.

Hero of the Series

A well-played series victory usually means there are plenty of well-deserved heroes but to be perfectly honest, one player really stood out. Sean Rodriguez has been a pleasant surprise for most of 2016. He has seen a power resurgence and has been a valuable piece off the bench for Clint Hurdle‘s team. He was excellent this series and the well deserved Hero of the Series.

Rodriguez went 6-17 (.352) with three home runs, four RBIs, and four runs scored. He was easily the best offensive player in the series for the Pirates, especially the doubleheader, where he homered in both games. Becoming the first Pirates since Pedro Alvarez in 2012 to accomplish that feat.

You would have been hard-pressed to find a more polarizing player in 2015 than Rodriguez. Many fans went crazy when it was announced he was starting in the Wildcard Game. What a difference a season makes as Rodriguez is a fan-favorite. All it took were 17 home runs and 51 RBIs to make the fans happy. Who knew, right?

Goat of the Series

The Pirates played a very good series, so it’s hard to pick a super obvious Goat but one player stuck out for me. When Ryan Vogelsong came back from his terrible injury, he pitched way better than expected. It was excellent to see the veteran perform so well but he has hit a wall. He’s been awful lately and in this series, it was more of the same.

In game one, he managed to only last 4.2 innings and allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits. His most recent starts have all been very poor as it appears the Vogelsong’s swan song is over. To be perfectly honest, it would be in the Pirates’ best interest to let one of the young pitchers start in Vogelsong’s place. He won’t be on the team in 2017 and it is more beneficial to let either Tyler Glasnow or Trevor Williams get a couple more starts before the end of the season.

Vogelsong didn’t have the worst start for the Pirates in the series, that was Ivan Nova but at this point in his career, he adds very little value to the roster. He deserves a ton of praise for returning from his gruesome eye injury but time eventually makes fools of us all. We should all appreciate Vogelsong’s gutsy effort for the bulk of this season but it’s time for him to ride off into the sunset.

Final Thoughts

2016 is going to be remembered as a disappointment for both the team and its fans but they still have a chance at redemption. There needs to be a youth movement over the final two weeks of the season. We need to let the young prospects get their feet wet and let them gain some much-needed experience. Tyler Glasnow, Steven Brault, Trevor Williams, Adam Frazier, and Alen Hanson should see a lot of playing time as the season winds down. I know we all wanted a fourth straight playoff appearance for the first time in Pirates’ history. However, there is still a chance this season could prove to be very valuable for the organization. Let the young guys play it out and hope they turn this experience into breakout seasons in 2017.

I know we all wanted a fourth straight playoff appearance for the first time in Pirates’ history. However, there is still a chance this season could prove to be  valuable for the organization. Let the young guys play it out and hope they turn this experience into breakout seasons in 2017.

There were plenty of people saying 2016 would be a bridge to 2017 and beyond. It appears those people were right. This screams transition season and that is a bit disappointing now. It could pay huge dividends next year. The Pirates have built an elite farm system. This season lets those prospects get Major League experience. It’ll be interesting to see what the team does in the offseason. They have an opportunity to make some moves and re-load and go for another playoff run in 2017.

Up Next

The Pirates will get a much-needed day off before beginning a three-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee. A yet to be determined starter will take on Matt Garza in game one. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10pm.

 

 

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